Possible Tomato Psyllid Infestation

UPDATE- 3/22/2012: I have confirmation from an entomologist that these are psyllids. The fruit has become malformed, catfaced and just doesn’t grow “normally”. The tomatoes taste good, but the texture is mealy and unappealing – which confirms my suspicions that the plants are infected with Curly Top Virus and I will be removing/destroying them soon.

Curly Top Virus Signs I have learned to look for :

  • Purple veining
  • Curling Leaves
  • Insects
  • Mealy Flesh in Tomatoes

Okay, I’m not 100% sure that I have Psyllids, but it is looking that way.

I’ve had some leaf curl on the Black From Tula tomatoes almost all year. That has been combined with purple veining and coloration on the leaves. I was just chalking it up to the fact that these plants survived the winter in their Earthbox and they were probably stressed because of the temperature swings and the fact that there are 3 plants in the Earthbox, rather than the recommended two.

However, as of last night I noticed telltale insect signs like white dots and glistening sticky stuff on the leaves. I uncurled some leaves and sure enough – there are some insects: eggs, larvae, nymphs and adults. I suspected aphids last night. However, after getting up close and personal with assorted two cameras, magnifying glasses, macro lenses and more…it’s not looking like aphids. It’s looking like Tomato Psyllids…which probably isn’t a good thing. Check the gallery of images!

Tomato Psyllids - Adults and Eggs?

Tomato Psyllids - Adults and Eggs? These things are tiny!

Curled Tomato Leaves

Curled Tomato Leaves - Note the eggs near the edges and the larvae inside.

Psyllid Nymph and Molted Shells?

Psyllid Nymph and Molted Shells?

Psyllid Nymph and Molted Shells?

Psyllid Nymph and Molted Shells?

Adult Psyllids?

Adult Psyllids?

Adult Psyllids?

Adult Psyllids?

Insect eggs and larva on tomato leaf

Insect eggs and larva on tomato leaf

Insect eggs and larva on tomato leaf

Insect eggs and larva on tomato leaf

Insect eggs and larva on tomato leaf

Insect eggs and larva on tomato leaf

Adult insect purple veins on tomato leaf

Adult insect purple veins on tomato leaf

Insects on tomato leaf

Insects on tomato leaf

Psyllid sugars on tomato leaf

Psyllid sugars on tomato leaf

Heirloom Tomatoes: Bali

Bali Tomato Seedlings

Bali Tomato Seedlings

Once again I am growing the wonderful Bali Tomato, from Indonesia. It was a good tomato last year, and I got a bit of a jump on the season this year so perhaps I can beat the desert heat. Perhaps not, as it is supposed to hit 80F this week!

These are currently waiting to get a bit larger before they get put into the Earthbox.

Black From Tula

Black From Tula Ripening on the VineThis is year two for the Black From Tula! I took a different approach with this Russian Heirloom this time and started it last fall. I babied it inside through the winter and started bringing it outside around January, which was mild (60 F) here.

Now, late February is looking good with about 8 tomatoes like this getting bigger and ripening, with a whole slew of flowers on the two plants in the EarthBox.  I am looking forward to an early spring tasting of these wonderful black tomatoes.

Tomatoes Do Not Get Rootbound in an Earthbox

I just decided my tomato season had come to an end and it was time to yank the plants. I just thought I would let everyone know that tomatoes do very well in them, and the roots spread quite nicely horizontally. It is a very efficient way to grow things, if you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and Do Not Second Guess The System.

Tomatoes Ripening

Green Zebra TomatoThe tomatoes have finally started to ripen! Seems I am having a problem with Blossom End Rot on all varieties. Guess next time, I will have to increase the  amount of hydrated lime that I add; perhaps crush some eggshells into the soil. Live and learn.

The Green Zebras are small, but tasty. A bit more “tang” than I was thinking they would have. That’s ok. Still beats what is available at my local supermarkets. Bali Tomato

The Bali variety are ultra tasty, with a good amount of meat in them, while still offering plenty of juice. Great with a bit of salt on them, fresh from the bush. Most are small and flat, but there are a few out there that are getting large. They range from orange to pink to red when ripe. The plant likes to climb, and lots of garden twine is being used to support their efforts.

Where Are the Bees?

I can tell you right now that there is a serious lack of interest in tomato flowers from the bees in my area. I suspect that they are off gathering pollen from the loads of wildflowers and cactii.

The early rains this year have produced an abundance of flowers on the desert plant life. That’s pretty rare. All kinds of things are in bloom, that we almost never see flower. Reds, purples, yellows, oranges – you name it. That means two things to me. One, I got some excellent, deep, dark, rich, desert honey at a great price. Two, my little container gardening experiment is being totally ignored by bees. So, I am shaking, flicking and brushing the flowers myself starting this week in order to pollinate the flowers so that I can get fruit to set before the temperatures skyrocket.

The Green Zebra actually has two tomatoes just starting on it now – so there is hope. We’ll see how it goes.

If you are interested in some desert honey (or other hard to find honey) check out the Honey Locator to find some.

Spider Mites?

One reader has said that my problem seems to be spider mites. That makes sense. While I don’t have a lot of visible webbing, the damage looks like it very well could be these arachnids in action.

Right now, the temperature is 84F,  and humidity non-existent, so it’s a perfect environment for them to thrive in. Since I have been diligent about checking my plants, and the problem is relatively small and new I am treating the mites the same way I caught the aphids off-guard. Soap and water. A couple drops of Dawn dish soap in my spray bottle, and I have saturated the plants from the bottom and the tops of the leaves.

Of course, it is still 84 degreees – so this dries pretty rapidly, but it is increasing the humidity a bit, and I was pretty thorough about spraying them. Washed off any foreign matter, for sure. Will reapply as necessary – never when the sun can strike the leaves and burn them. I’ll keep you posted.

Earth Day Brings the First Flower

Bali Tomato FloweringHappy to report that the Bali is starting to flower, as is the Black From Tula. All plants are getting thick stems and dark green, with lots of new leaves every day.

I did have a small burst of activity from some aphids, but a bit of dish soap and water in a squirt bottle cured that right up.

This photo was shot with my Olympus in Macro Mode.

White Leaves Mean Windburn

Well, there is good news and bad news. Good news is that some of the leaves are getting a nice dark green on the Tula. Bad news is others are turning white.

Seems the earthbox plants, and the ones I keep bringing outside in the morning and forgetting about until sunset are getting a bit of windburn. So, my “hardening off” process is turning into a trial by fire, I guess. I’ll have to be a bit more careful. Will put up some pics tomorrow.

Hardening Off

Today is a beautiful sunny day. We’ve had some good storms the past two days, but today is clear and bright. So, I decided it would be a good day to get the seedlings outside for a bit.

I had almost 100% germination on everything. The only thing that didn’t germinate were 3 of the shisito pepper seeds. They were all in the same peat pellet. Not sure what happened there.

Anyway, most of the plants have been transferred to the 5″ peat pots now, and are sitting in the sun outside. Temperature according to the internet is 62 degrees farenheit, but in the sun its definitely warmer than that. Breeze is about 1 mph off and on. So, a few hours out there should do the plants good.

I am no longer using any grow light. I did have a small, under-cabinet kitchen fluorescent over the plants when they were small. I was giving them light about 18 hours per day between the sun and the fluorescent. Now, I don’t feel the need to do that, as the south window they are in seems to keep them from getting too leggy.